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Blackmon feels 'lucky' after COVID-19 illness

@harding_at_mlb
July 13, 2020

DENVER -- Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon can say COVID-19 was not that bad for him. But that’s not the same as saying COVID-19 is not that bad. He tried to thread that needle at a press conference Monday afternoon. Blackmon joined Rockies Summer Camp for the first time Monday, after

DENVER -- Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon can say COVID-19 was not that bad for him. But that’s not the same as saying COVID-19 is not that bad.

He tried to thread that needle at a press conference Monday afternoon.

Blackmon joined Rockies Summer Camp for the first time Monday, after having tested positive for the novel coronavirus during pre-camp workouts at Coors Field. Blackmon isn’t sure if he will be in baseball shape enough to play -- either in right field or as designated hitter -- when the delayed season starts July 24 at Texas.

“My symptoms were what I would consider mild flu symptoms,” Blackmon said. “I had a headache, was the most common thing I felt. I had a bit of a cough. And then I had some body aches. I just felt sick, but they only lasted for about 36 hours and I would consider it mild compared to the flu. I had the flu proper a couple years ago and I thought that thing was going to wipe me out.

“And I'm lucky that my COVID experience was not nearly as severe, and I know that it does affect everybody a little differently.”

Blackmon, a four-time All-Star, was careful about his place in the worldwide pandemic. In the U.S. alone, the unpredictable virus for which there is no vaccine has been diagnosed in more than 3.4 million and more than 138,000 have died. Baseball shut down on March 11 and much of life in America and the world changed.

“It might be hard to compare the public to a professional athlete,” Blackmon said. “You know I feel like a normal guy feels -- hopefully that other people that get sick will bounce back like that. I have complete confidence that I am going to be 100 percent recovered and not have any lasting effects. But I don't want to say that without understanding and having respect for the families that have been affected negatively. It’s a very real, very dangerous virus for some people. And I'm lucky that it didn't affect me that bad."

Blackmon requested a test when he began feeling sick and said he was “surprised when I tested positive.” He said he was careful when he and his wife, Ashley, went to restaurants and generally ate takeout, and the couple “kept our circle small,” so he can’t pinpoint how he contracted the virus.

“I would much rather have gotten sick when I did, rather than get sick now or get sick midseason,” Blackmon said. “I'm looking at it [as] more of a positive that I got it out of the way.

“There was a chance for lingering effects,” he said. “But we’ve done a good job, in my opinion, with the protocols. I’ve had ultrasounds and X-rays of my heart and lungs. I’m past that point. I’m now out of the woods, and I expect to recover pretty quick.”

He also is impressed by the measures the Rockies and MLB are taking.

“We have very strict protocols,” he said. “Upon arriving here today -- my first time being back in the building because I wasn't allowed in the building -- it's apparent that we've done a lot of work. The organization has worked really hard, we have the PPE [personal protective equipment]. We have protocols. Upon entering a room, leaving a room, disinfectant is everywhere. We're wearing our masks."

Blackmon did essentially a double-workout Monday. He took batting practice, went to right field to read balls off the bat and stayed beyond his group’s time on the field to take fungoes (balls hit by a coach).

Will it be enough to be ready for the start of a season in 11 days?

“He's excited he's going to get a lot of work done today,” Rockies manager Bud Black said before Blackmon practiced. “The physical part of it, he feels really raring to go.

“It's going to be close but I'm optimistic, knowing Charlie. I know during the last couple of weeks that he's been away from us, I'm sure he's been keeping himself in some sort of shape, whatever that might be.”

Blackmon’s usual meticulous methods for preparation, play and recovery, like everyone else’s, have been disrupted. So he’ll have to see.

“Usually coming into Spring Training, I'm working out and have a very regimented program that I've done for years and years, and I know that I have an extended period of time to get ready to play the game,” he said. “This year is different. I was sick and really couldn't do much physically for a while. And now I'm trying to come back with less time to prepare. I've never really done that before, outside of coming off the DL, and usually that sort of situation has to be fluid, you've got to be able to read your body and make changes.

“So, yes, I want to be ready to play right away and that's a goal of mine and I think I will be ready to play. Is it the worst thing if I'm not ready for the very first game? No, as long as it means that I'm preparing to play and not suffering setbacks.”

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.